Being an early morning bird, most of my best and worst ideas come before 5am. Earlier patterning around industrial jobs and working as a self-employed printer through the hours of darkness have created that timetable for me. I am a slave to it.
To recap: last year I was working on ‘It’s Expensive Keeping People Poor’. And would have produced a manifesto-type pamphlet around that subject if it were not for the onset of the Ukrainian war and the hike in costs because of inflation. That flattened my ambitions to broach the deep, deep problems of poverty and how much of a drain it was on the government purse and the public mind.
Poverty has expanded into the lives of people who formerly were clinging on to some semblance of financial security. Inflation has sunk many boats and I felt it was necessary to concentrate on shoring up the safety nets, making sure the government supported people out of poverty.
Inflation may have slowed and in cases like fuel reduced, but we are not yet out of the woods. We have to keep those safety nets working full time. We have to continue to campaign in these pages and elsewhere for support to prevent families slipping into homelessness. We have to insist on these basic human rights so that another generation is not condemned to the ‘treacle’ of poverty, as I have at times called it.
‘It’s Expensive Keeping People Poor’ was therefore put on the back burner not for a lack of devotion to the ideas of breaking poverty, but because of a pressing crisis. But my mind has a life of its own and I woke last week with an urgency to grab the notepaper that I have beside me at all times and write down the following: ‘The Social & Political Glues, Syrups and Treacles that Keep People in Poverty’. I was astonished at this early morning arrival, actually 2.30am and therefore ahead of my usual rising hour. From whence in hell’s name did that creep into my mind and wake me from my slumbers?
I should tell you that the name ‘The Big Issue’ came to me similarly at such an hour and in such a way 32 years ago. I was not eating cheese late at night the night before (in line with the once-held belief that cheese gave you vivid dreams). Nor had I been out on the piss 32 years ago. And nor had there been cheese or wine in my diet that last week.